The indecency with a child conviction and 12-year prison sentence a Parker County jury gave to a former Springtown police officer in 2018 was affirmed on appeal in a ruling received by the Parker County District Attorney's Office this week.
Franklin "Frank" Carroll, 43, was working as a school resource officer at Springtown High School at the time of the offense. The victim testified that, during her freshman year, Carroll befriended her and had her come to his office several times a week. When the door to his office was closed, those outside could not see into his office.
The victim testified that, over a period of weeks, while in his office, Carroll progressively began to hug her, kiss her, touch her breasts over and under her clothes, and, eventually, touched her genitals.
However, it was the testimony of other SHS students who told jurors about Carroll's inappropriate behavior toward them that formed the basis of his appeal.
"Two other female students testified that, while a school resource officer, Mr. Carroll befriended them then made inappropriate sexual advanced towards them," said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain. "One testified that, in the very same office, he French kissed her. The other said that he requested naked pictures from her. We introduced that testimony to rebut the defensive theory that our victim fabricated her claim."
The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ruled that District Judge Graham Quisenberry "did not abuse [his] discretion by allowing the testimony" of the two students and one of their teachers, who corroborated parts of the victim's testimony. "[T]he State was able to show that Carroll had the opportunity to abuse and a history of abusing his position of power within the high school to take advantage of teen girls," the Court wrote.
Carroll also claimed on appeal that Quisenberry should have moved the trial out of Parker County due to extensive media coverage and because of letters sent home to parents by the Springtown Independent School District.
The appeals court denied that request, pointing to evidence presented at a hearing on Carroll's request during which evidence was presented that Springtown ISD is just one of several districts in Parker County and that the prosecution presented four affidavits from Parker County residents who had never heard of Carroll or the allegations against him.
During the punishment phase of Carroll's trial, Assistant District Attorneys Abby Placke and Larry Fadler introduced testimony showing other abuses of power by Carroll. One Springtown businesswoman testified that, on several occasions, while in uniform, Carroll came into her office and masturbated in front of her.
Another former co-worker of Carroll's from a Saginaw business testified that Carroll took her cell phone when she was not looking and scrolled through it trying to find intimate pictures that she had taken for her boyfriend. After she became suspicious, she used an app that would take a picture of anyone trying to access her phone and caught Carroll in the act the next time he did it.
After his conviction, Carroll was facing a sentence of probation or up to 20 years in prison. Jurors assessed Carroll a 12 year prison sentence.
"Guarding the safety of our children is the job of every school resource officer," Placke said. "The way that he abused his power to take advantage of these students was indefensible and deserving of a prison sentence."
Carroll has given notice that he intends to appeal the Second Court of Appeals' ruling to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
"The Court of Criminal Appeals is our State's highest appellate court for criminal matters," Swain said. "They have the discretion to hear or not hear any case appealed to them, so he may or may not get a chance to have them review his case."
Carroll is currently incarcerated in a prison unit in Snyder, Texas, and will remain incarcerated while his appeals are pending, Swain said.